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Noise Isolation Class (NIC) Testing of Modular Office Partitions

Andrew Williamson

Abstract


A trend in the design of new office spaces, and the renovation of existing office spaces, is to use modular partitions that terminate at suspended acoustic tile (T-bar) ceilings. These partitions permit office spaces to be reconfigured in the future with less effort than would be required with conventional gypsum wall board (GWB) partitions. Modular partitions, however, present challenges in terms of providing adequate acoustical privacy as they must be sealed around their perimeter joints and there is also potential for sound to travel over the partitions via the ceiling plenum. While the ceiling plenum transmission can be addressed by selecting ceiling tiles with an appropriate Ceiling Attenuation Class, and/or by inserting barrier elements into the plenum space, providing effective seals at the perimeter joints can be more challenging. Furthermore, modular partitions that demise offices from corridors or open-plan work areas, also require effective seals along the perimeters and bottoms of doors. This paper presents case-studies which highlight the challenges involved in providing acoustical privacy when using modular partitions.


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